The Knesset at Center Stage
By Senator Jim Inhofe
Seven reasons why Israel is entitled to the land they have.
1. All archeological evidence supports that Israelis had a presence there for 3,000 years. The coins, the cities, the pottery, the culture– there is no mistaking the fact that Israelis have been in that land for 3,000 years. It predates claims of any other peoples in the region, who do not have the unbroken line to this date that Israel has. The first Israelis are in fact descended from the original Israelites.
2. Israel’s right to the land is also historic. There has been an Israel up to the time of the Roman Empire, who conquered it. Israel had no homeland, but Jews were allowed to live there. They were driven from the land in 70 and 135, but there was always a Jewish presence. The Turks took over about 700 years ago and ruled the land until World War I. The Turks entered World War I with Germany, so the British sent troops against the Turks in the Holy Land. Allenby led the British and captured Jerusalem without a shot.
The British said they will give the Jewish people a homeland, and set aside all of what is now Israel and all of what was then the nation of Jordan–the whole thing.
There was no huge Arab population in the land at that time, because the land could not sustain a large population, and was not wanted by anybody.
It was considered worthless land. Mark Twain–Samuel Clemens– toured Palestine in 1867, and this is how he described it: A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus almost deserted the country.”
Where was this great Palestinian nation? It did not exist. This is the report that the Palestinian Royal Commission, created by the British, made.
It quotes an account of the conditions on the coastal plain along the Mediterranean in 1913. They said: The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track, suitable for transport by camels or carts. No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached the Yavnev village. Houses were mud. Schools did not exist. The western coast was almost a desert. The villages were few and thinly populated, some were deserted.
The French author Voltaire described Palestine as “a hopeless, dreary place.” The nation became populated by both Jews and Arabs when Jews returned and reclaimed it. If there had never been any archaeological evidence to support Israel’s right of to the territory, other nations in the area have no longstanding claim either.
Did you know that Saudi Arabia was not created until 1913, Lebanon until 1920? Iraq did not exist until 1932, Syria until 1941; the borders of Jordan were established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961. Any of these nations that would say Israel is only a recent arrival would have to deny their own rights as well.
3. The third reason that land belongs to Israel is practical. Israel is a marvel of agriculture, bringing more food out of a desert environment than any other country in the world. The Arabs ought to make Israel their friend and import Israeli technology that would allow the Middle East to become an exporter of food.
4. Israel has the right to the land on humanitarian grounds. Six million Jews perished in Europe in World War II. The persecution against the Jews had been very strong in Russia since communism. These people have a right to their homeland. They are not asking for a great deal. The whole nation of Israel would fit into my home state of Oklahoma seven times. Israel is very small. It is a nation that until the claims started coming in, was not desired by anybody.
5. Israel is a strategic ally of the United States. Whether we realize it or not, Israel is a detriment, an impediment to groups hostile to democracies and hostile to what we believe in, hostile to that which makes us the world’s greatest nation. They kept them from taking control of the Middle East. If not for Israel, they would overrun the region. It is good to know we have a friend in the Middle East on whom we can count. They vote with us in the UN more than England, Canada, France, Germany and any other country.
6. Israel is a roadblock to terrorism. The war we now face is not against a sovereign nation; it is against terrorists who move from one country to another. They are almost invisible. We need every ally we can get. If we do not stop terrorism in the Middle East, it will be on our shores. I believe the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the US in that the policy of our Government has been to pressure the Israelis not to retaliate significantly against the terrorist strikes launched against them.
Since its independence in 1948, Israel has fought four wars: The war in 1948 and 1949 for independence, the Sinai campaign in 1956; the Six-Day War in 1967; and in 1973, the Yom Kippur War on the holiest day of the year, and that was with Egypt and Syria. In all four cases, Israel was attacked. They won all four wars against impossible odds. They consider a level playing field being outnumbered 2 to 1.
Thirty nine Scud missiles landed on Israel during the Gulf war. In order to have the Arab nations on board, we asked Israel not to participate in the war. They showed tremendous restraint and did not. Now we asked them to stand back and not do anything after many attacks. We criticized them. Local people in television and radio often criticize Israel, not knowing the facts.
I was thrilled when a reporter posed a question to our Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He said: Mr. Powell, the United States advocates a policy of restraint in the Middle East. We discourage Israel from retaliating because we say it leads to escalation. Are we going to follow that preaching ourselves? Mr. Powell indicated we would strike back. I am so proud of them because we must stop terrorism. It is not going to go away. If Israel were driven into the sea tomorrow, terrorism would not end.
It is not just a matter of Israel. It is the heart of the very people who are perpetrating this stuff. Should they be successful in overrunning Israel, they will never be satisfied.
7. Israel has a right to the land because God said so. Look it up in Genesis. 13:14-17, the Bible says: The Lord said to Abram, “Raise your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward and westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever … Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee.”
That is G-d talking. The Bible says that Abram moved his tent and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, in Hebron,. Hebron is in the West Bank. It is where G-d appeared to Abram and said, “I am giving you this land,”–the West Bank. This is not a political battle. It is a contest over whether or not the word of G-d is true.
These seven reasons clearly establish that Israel has a right to the land. Eight years ago on the White House lawn, Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with PLO Chairman Arafat. It was a tragic occasion. At that time, the official policy of the Government of Israel began to be, “`Let’s appease the terrorists. Let trade land for peace.”
This process continued until last year. Here in our own Nation, at Camp David, in the summer of 2000, then Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak offered the most generous concessions to Yasser Arafat ever. He offered him more than 90 percent of all the West Bank territory. Some parts he did not want to offer, but in exchange he said he would give up land in Israel proper that the PLO had not even asked for. He also did the unthinkable, offering to divide Jerusalem and allow Palestinians to have their capital there. Everything he had said he wanted was offered. It was put into his hands. Why did Arafat storm out of the meeting?
Soon after, the riots began when Ariel Sharon went to the Temple Mount. Did you know that Sharon first contacted the Islamic authorities and secured their permission? It was no surprise. The response was carefully calculated. They would portray this in the Arab world as an attack on the holy mosque, and use it as an excuse to riot.
Over the last 8 years, during the peace process, when the Israeli public pressured its leaders to give up land for peace because they are tired of fighting, there has been increased terror, greater in the last 8 years than any other time.
Showing restraint and giving in has not produced peace. Even the leftist peace movement in Israel feels they were deceived. They offered a hand of peace, and it was not taken. The Israelis see that “No matter what we do, these people want to destroy us.” The PLO stationery has upon it the map of the entire state of Israel, not just the tiny little part they call the West Bank. They want it all. We must get out of this mindset that you can buy peace in the Middle East by giving plots of land.
Dershowitz and tragedy
May 3, 2013
The excessively slow pace of Israel’s electoral and political systems impose dysfunction at a time when a strong, strategically-directed government is desperately needed.
This is highlighted by the excruciatingly slow coalition building process preceded by the lengthy pre-election campaign. The head of the leading party designated by the president to form the next government has 28 days to build a coalition with an option of an additional 14 days.
To have a hiatus of 3 to 4 months during which the outgoing government functions as a lame-duck, would be intolerable for any country. However, in the context of the extraordinary pressures and existential challenges currently confronting Israel – in particular the expansion of radical Islam in the neighborhood and the critical emerging security threats on all its borders – the absence of effective government for such a long period is appalling.
A strong government is also urgently required to formulate responsible economic and social policies to preempt a domestic crisis – which could ultimately also impact on security.
Moreover, with President Obama scheduled to make his first visit to Israel in the near future, a government with a strategic plan and a unified diplomatic approach is an essential prerequisite. That cannot be achieved if a government is formed only days before the presidential visit.
In light of this, the ongoing shenanigans delaying the formation of a government are a monumental display of irresponsibility by all political parties. This is surely a time when the national interest requires that those elected to office recognize their obligation to concentrate on speedily creating a government. Ideally they would suspend their personal agendas and avoid dragging out the negotiation process in order to jostle for ministerial portfolios.
Remarkably, notwithstanding all the media babble and despite the substantial erosion of Likud-Beiteinu electoral support, Netanyahu is in a uniquely advantageous position to create a genuinely broad coalition. With the exception of the radical Arab parties and Meretz, a genuine centrist consensus in relation to the peace process dominates the political arena. The vast majority of Israelis have no desire to rule over Palestinians and, given a genuine peace partner, would be relieved to separate from them. Even the hawkish Bayit Yehudi would welcome the opportunity of entering the government in the absence of dramatic changes leading to the emergence of a Palestinian state – which is currently not even on the horizon.
Indeed, Yair Lapid – mistakenly dubbed by much of the media as a center leftist –unequivocally committed Yesh Atid to maintaining the unity of Jerusalem and retaining the settlement of Ariel within Israel. He did undertake to pursue negotiations with the Palestinians, but after Mahmoud Abbas responded to Netanyahu’s most recent offer to negotiate without preconditions by demanding a settlement freeze (including all of Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods) and the release of all imprisoned terrorists – there is little doubt that Lapid and Netanyahu would have identical responses to such intransigence.
Despite Shelley Yachimovitch having pledged not to join a Netanyahu government, she admits that today many of her party members are pressing her to do so. Even Tzipi Livni, despite her former histrionics against Netanyahu, is now also almost desperate to join the government. This confirms that in spite of all the posturing, a broad political consensus prevails.
The sole major issue which remains a barrier towards creating a broad national government is the commitment by many parties to introduce reforms to preclude the non-Zionist and inflexible ultra-Orthodox rabbis from exclusively controlling state religious policies.
The most emotional aspect of this is “equalization of the burden” in relation to haredim serving in the Army or National Service. There is also the need to steer them into the workforce, weaning them away from long term reliance on state welfare.
In contrast to his late father, Yair Lapid has been extremely reasonable in his approach to the haredim. Many even consider his proposal to progressively introduce the draft over a five year period to be too gradual. But despite this, the ultra-0rthodox are threatening to go to the barricades and seeking to exploit emerging tensions between Netanyahu and Lapid.
Throughout the election campaign, Lapid was a role model for moderation and restraint. Most politicians harbor dreams of ultimately becoming Prime Minister. But he blundered when in response to a rhetorical question in a TV interview he said that he visualized himself displacing the current prime minister within 18 months – a remark which certainly would not have contributed to Netanyahu’s comfort level with an impending new partner.
The desperate haredim are already capitalizing on this. Indeed, despite Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef having described Bayit Yehudi leaders during the elections as “goyim”, Shas leaders have appealed to them not to support efforts to draft their followers. They seem to have even convinced some of the more stringent religious Zionist rabbis to exert pressure on Bennett to soften his position. Should they succeed, Bennett and Bayit Yehudi would be discredited and may lose a precious opportunity to restore religious Zionism to its rightful place in a Zionist state.
In this context Netanyahu is making Bennett’s position more difficult by publicly humiliating him, meeting with him only after his consultations with Meretz, Labor, Tzipi Livni and even the radical Arab parties. Irrespective of former confrontations, such personal displays of animus by the Prime Minister are misplaced and do not display him in a favorable light.
Netanyahu and Lapid should stop posturing and speedily reach an accommodation regarding the haredi imbroglio. Many Shas supporters already serve in the army. Once appropriate legislation has been passed requiring haredim to serve in the IDF or National Service, Shas may still seek to join the government. The Aguda (United Torah Judaism) would probably stay out which would not be a great loss.
On the other hand, should Netanyahu form another narrow government which would continue to be subject to extortion by the ultra-orthodox and obliged to substitute genuine efforts to draft haredim with mere cosmetic gestures, the electorate would be outraged. Besides, a narrow government under the current circumstances would almost certainly only have a very limited duration. In the ensuing elections irate Israelis would undoubtedly severely punish those leaders – in particular Netanyahu – for failure to create a broad government.
With the impending visit to the region by President Obama there is a desperate need to present a united front in relation to policies regarding Iran and the Palestinians. To achieve this, our politicians have an urgent obligation to cease posturing and form a broad national government.